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Reilly facing EU battle on banning of menthol cigarettes

The Health Minister is facing some opposition to the ban as he meets his European counterparts today.

James Reilly pictured at the launch of Irish plans for graphic tobacco warnings last month
James Reilly pictured at the launch of Irish plans for graphic tobacco warnings last month
Image: Photocall Ireland

A BAN ON menthol cigarettes is being backed by the Irish Government ahead of a meeting of EU health ministers in Luxembourg today.

It’s expected a broad plan to bring in greater tobacco restrictions will be adopted at the meeting – even though many member states oppose the proposals, according to the Brussels-based EuropeanVoice.com.

A draft text prepared in Dublin makes some minor adjustments to an original European Commission plan for graphic pictorial warnings on cigarette packs – reducing the proposed image from 75% to 70% of the surface, but adding a 1mm black border.

The compromise proposal is expected to have enough support to pass – even though several southern and central EU nations oppose it.

Countries including Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic are against the pictorial warning, and they also want a plan to ban menthol tobacco products removed. It’s not thought the group have enough votes to be able to block an agreement.

Speaking earlier this year, Health Minister James Reilly said an EU-ban on the flavoured cigarettes was vital to ‘denormalise’ smoking for younger people.

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After a meeting of EU ministers in Dublin in March, he said: “That’s what they are trying to attract our children to, particularly young girls.”

Any plan agreed will be submitted to the European Parliament for approval, the minister said, with the aim of having it enforced by 2015 or 2016.

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Daragh Brophy

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